What is an e-cigarette?

In 1963, a device was invented that could convert a nicotine solution into steam. This was not picked up further until the first electronic cigarette was invented in 2003 as an alternative to the classic cigarette. It came onto the Dutch market in 2007 and from 2011 it became popular as an alternative, but also as an aid to stop smoking.

The e-cigarette consists of 3 parts: the battery, the filling (e-liquid) and the vaporizer. By pressing a button or inhaling, you activate the vacuum switch, which ensures that the battery can heat the vaporizer. The liquid in the filling is then evaporated and those vapors can then be inhaled. The vapor you exhale is therefore not smoke and you can’t smell it.
You can buy an e-cigarette for about 20 euros and the e-liquids cost around 3 euros. People often use a bottle of e-liquids for 2 weeks, depending on how much you ‘vape’.


This is the filling of your e-cigarette and you determine the strength and taste yourself. For example, you choose ‘zero’ if you do not want nicotine up to a maximum of ‘high’, where you receive a maximum of 18 mg per ml of nicotine. There are smokers who slowly reduce the nicotine level in this way. And then there are hundreds of different flavors like kiwi and cappuccino.

The law

In March 2012, the judge ruled that the e-cigarette does not fall under the Medicine Act and can therefore be sold freely. In Belgium, Austria and the United States, the e-cigarette is regarded as a medicine. In Belgium, only nicotine-free e-cigarettes may be sold. The European Commission is investigating whether the e-cigarette can be regulated.

Harmfulness of e-cigarette

The World Health Organization states that as of July 2013, no proper studies have been conducted to determine whether electronic cigarettes are a useful method of helping people to quit smoking.

E-liquids in the e-cigarette are available with and without nicotine. A smoker is addicted to nicotine and the e-cigarette can replace this.

You do not have to light e-cigarettes and because they contain no tobacco, no tobacco combustion products such as tar and carbon monoxide are emitted. Therefore, they could be less harmful than cigarettes. 4000 different chemicals and more than 40 carcinogens (carcinogens) have been found in tobacco products and tobacco smoke.

The potential effects and extent of the health damage of e-cigarettes have not yet been sufficiently studied to make a definitive statement on these topics. More information can be found on the E-cigarette Factsheet of the Trimbos Institute.